JAIPUR: Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje began her religious visit with a massive 'show of strength' on Sunday amid the ongoing tussle in the Rajasthan BJP.
Soon after arriving by helicopter at 'Pooncchri Ka Lautha' in Bharatpur, Vasundhara addressed the public which had come in large numbers to welcome her and reminded the gathering (and the BJP high command) about her family's contribution to the party.
As she started her two-day 'Dev Darshan Yatra', Raje said, "Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia played an important role in not letting the BJP’s 'lotus flower' wilt. She was always full of nationalism and the BJP in every pore of her body. And I am the daughter of the same mother."
Though her words can be interpreted in many ways, most political experts see them as Raje's message to both - her critics and the party high command - that she cannot be forgotten or side-lined in the party.
The Yatra, which has been timed to coincide with Raje's birthday on March 8, attracted over 2 dozen sitting BJP MLAs, a few MPs, 70 former MLAs and numerous office bearers of her faction who were all present with the former Chief Minister on Sunday.
In addition, while addressing the gathering, Raje, also attacked the Gehlot government. She said that many schemes were launched during her tenure as CM for the development of the state but today the government has closed all of them. "We all have to work together to root out Ashok Gehlot's Congress government. With the name of Gir-raj Maharaj, all of us will pray for the resumed development of Rajasthan," she remarked.
With this, Raje has clearly indicated that she has no plan of shifting to the national stage as the party high command reportedly wants her to. Instead, Raje has sent out a clear message that Rajasthan will remain her main focus – no matter what her critics in the state unit might do or say.
For the past several months, Raje has been locked in a major fight with state BJP President Satish Poonia from the RSS lobby in the party. Given this tussle, BJP national president JP Nadda who had visited Jaipur on Tuesday had even got Raje and Poonia to join and raise hands together in order to bridge the growing rift. Nadda had stressed on the need for unity in the party ahead of the state assembly bypolls.
Through the Dev Darshan Yatra, Raje and her supporters also want to send out a message to her critics that she is the most popular leader in the BJP. For weeks, Raje loyalists have claimed that the party has sidelined her and have been openly demanding that she should be the CM face in the 2023 Assembly elections.
On the second day of her Yatra, loyalists plan to celebrate Raje's birthday as a 'Swabhiman Diwas' or a Self-Respect Day as a means to revive Raje's political fortunes. Besides visiting several temples, Raje and all leaders and workers of the party supporting her will celebrate her 67th birthday in a grand style in her home district of Dholpur.